What's a behaviorist?

Discussion in 'Dogs - General Dog Chat' started by AliciaD, Oct 1, 2011.

  1. AliciaD

    AliciaD On second thought...

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    People keep saying Cesar Milan is a behaviorist, and I want to argue, :lol-sign:

    Isn't "animal behaviorist" an earned title? I mean I know if you are a vet you can specialize in behavior and it's like an extra 3 years, but not all behaviorists are vets. So go they do the same 3 year training? Are they certified? Through what program?

    Thanks guys!
     
  2. colliewog

    colliewog Collies&Terriers, Oh My!

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    "I'm the Queen of England!"

    It's that simple. You call yourself something, so that makes it true. ;)

    In my opinion, a true behaviorist is certified (may not be a DVM, but has had training through an accredited agency/institution). With that said, I feel I have a very strong understanding of canine behavior, but I'm not going to tout myself as a behaviorist.
     
  3. AliciaD

    AliciaD On second thought...

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    Same- I mean, I don't know as much as other people on here know about animal behavior but I'm hoping on becoming a vet, and I want my specialty to be animal behavior. Until then, I wouldn't/couldn't call myself a behaviorist. The more flippantly we (general) use the term the less meaning it has and the harder it becomes to find a qualified behaviorist.
     
  4. colliewog

    colliewog Collies&Terriers, Oh My!

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    I just want to see two things in a behaviorist (1) credentials and (2) proof. CM has neither. I wouldn't discount a person without a degree/certificate if he/she could show me what he/she has done.
     
  5. Kat09Tails

    Kat09Tails *Now with Snark*

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    Victoria Stilwell didn't own a dog before she called herself a dog trainer. I mean is it possible to know enough about a dog to train one without owning one? Yes, but it also is greatly limiting on your scope of understanding both of the dogs and the people who live with them. It's probably why her stuff on it's me or the dog has operationally conditioned me to change the channel.

    A behaviorist as applied to dogs isn't a anything more than a trainer with a specialised scope. There are a few accredited schools that have training programs/educators and general animal behavior courses but by in large most people are judged upon their results either in the ring or among clients.
     
  6. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    There are several certifications for behaviorists; if I were looking for a behaviorist, I'd only hire one with such certification.

    That said, I think most people define behaviorists and trainers like this:

    Trainers teach dogs to do cues, like sit, down, stay; and basic house manners, like potty training, not mouthing, etc. They can also train specialized skills, like agility, tracking, service dog training, etc., but these are still just cues and "tricks."

    Behaviorists work more with dog behaviors, not tricks. They deal with aggressive dogs, dogs with true separation anxiety, dogs with neuroses, etc.

    Trainers are like teachers; behaviorists are like psychologists.
     
  7. Teal

    Teal ...ice road...

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    I am a certified dog trainer, and I do call myself a Dog Behaviouralist because that is my area of expertise. It makes me a better trainer. I never attended school for being a behaviouralist - it's something I am naturally good at. So, I took the appropriate steps to get documented proof because most people look for that. To me, it's not about the paperwork though - it's about the person's ability with the dogs. (CM has NEITHER LOL)
     
  8. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

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    From another forum:

    Truth be told, most who claim to be behaviorists do not qualify. It's sad.
     
  9. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    I like Adrienne's post, and that's generally how I think of it. If you're calling yourself a behaviorist, you better have gone to school for a **** long time to earn that.

    I don't know that much about veterinary behaviorists, but I know I'm going to school for Animal Behavior (Ethology)....I'm getting an undergrad degree in psychology and then going for my master's in Ethology. It's not just studying how to deal with an aggressive dog....I don't know if there are programs like that. I study brain chemistry, psychopharmacology, evolutionary theory, neurology, etc. I'm learning how to tell exactly why, biologically speaking, a dog may react aggressively, like what is happening chemically in their brain to cause that, and ways to actually change the neurological processes that happen through behavioral therapies (things like classical conditioning and so on).

    So, I kind of consider a trainer to be someone who knows "give the dog a treat to get him to do X" or "remove the dog from the situation because he's too stimulated"...whether they're training tasks and tricks or fixing a dog's behavior. I consider someone a behaviorist when they say "the dog is reacting this way because his adrenaline is spiking and his dopamine levels are dropping right at this threshold, and giving him positive reinforcement here is going to help negate that"

    I'm not sure if I'll finish the degree, but it's what I'm working towards right now.
     

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